The family of Erica Baker will host a monument dedication ceremony Saturday at 10 a.m. for the Kettering girl who disappeared in 1999 while walking her family dog and never came home.
“The rest of the family has wanted to do this for several years, but I refused until now. To me, I felt like it would mean I would be giving up,” said her mother, Misty Baker. “But I shouldn’t look at it that way. That isn’t true.”
Erica was a 9-year-old third-grader at Indian Riffle Elementary School in Kettering when her family last saw her on the afternoon of Feb. 7, 1999.
Investigators believe she was struck and possibly killed by a van on Glengarry Drive, then removed from the scene.
The driver, Christian Gabriel, told police in 2004 that he disposed of the girl’s body after striking her, but has never said where her remains were taken. He said he was driving with a suspended license and had just stolen merchandise from a nearby store.
Released in 2011, Gabriel served more than five years in prison for gross abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence.
A passenger who was in the van with him died in 2001.
Erica’s mother said the monument is for both Erica and her.
“I chose a monument that has flying butterflies on it. The purple one is for Erica. The blue one is for me. Mine is covering hers.”
She said the ceremony will be “a way for people to honor her and to say goodbye. I will have photos of her there. We picked David’s Cemetery because it’s in Kettering.”
Other family members including Erica’s father, Greg Baker, and her three brothers — Jason Sponaugle, 31; Gregory Baker , 27, and Logan Baker, 26, will attend.
“Everyone is welcome — friends, family and the community,” Misty Baker said.
The cemetery is at 4600 Mad River Road, just off West David Road, west of Far Hills Ave.